Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is a popular North American tradition observed in the United States and Canada and Australia on February 2. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den, and winter will go on for six more weeks; if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early. I’ve never taken much stock in Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, probably the most famous of the groundhogs. However, this has been a very weird winter. We’ve had many days above freezing, and then this weekend we are expecting temperatures as low as -22 (with a windchill of -40) on Saturday and then 40 degree temperatures on Sunday. We’ve had days throughout January with barely any snow on the ground and then have two feet of snow the next day before the snow melts again by the end of the week.  

The weather is weird all over. Over Christmas when I was in Alabama, it was 50+ degrees when I landed, 18-22 degrees while I was there, and then went to 70 degrees on the day I left. They said I brought the cold with me, and maybe I did since it was “warmer” in Vermont on some of the days while I was gone. It was the coldest temperatures Alabama has had in decades.

Most people in Vermont believe that the worst of winter is yet to come, so if Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t hide from his shadow, I suspect all the Vermont’s woodchucks (what groundhogs are called in Vermont) will. I’ll never understand how people can see these extreme swings in the weather and the shorter winters and not believe the scientists who tell us global warming is a major danger and most certainly real. Most climate scientists say that the ski industry in Vermont, our major industry, will not be viable in a few decades because winters won’t be long enough to justify opening the resorts. It will also affect Vermont’s second major industry, maple syrup production.

If you’re in an area experiencing extreme cold this weekend, please stay warm.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

2 responses to “Groundhog Day

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